Sunday 31 January 2016

The Calm before the storm.

Today there is not a breath of wind.   It is dull and the air is damp.  We went out to Sunday lunch - six of us - Hawes in Wensleydale.   Four came from the West side of the country and we of course from lower down the dale.   And what a delicious meal it was - a choice of roast beef, roast lamb, roast pork and roast turkey.  All with the correct trimmings of cranberry, horseradish, mint or apple sauce.  We were there for two hours of good food and jolly company and we are now home again, the wood burner is lit and the farmer has just taken Tess for her afternoon walk.

Now we must savour this quiet because Henry is on his way and he will be noisy again.  I find the noise of the wind so very tiring.

No more food to get today - just a cup of tea, so a nice, peaceful evening.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Naming names.

Gertrude has been a beast today I must say.  She has howled and raged all day in the Scot's pines and the noise has driven me mad.  The only way I can get any peace is to turn off my hearing aid.   She hadn't stopped the farmer from walking round on the last shoot of the season with his syndicate group.   It was bitterly cold but boosted by a whisky-laced flask of coffee, a Scotch egg (sorry John), sandwiches, a piece of slab cake, a packet of crisps and a large bunch of grapes he set off at ten o'clock in fine fettle.

Friend W and I took ourselves into our favourite cafe for a bowl of vegetable soup and a ham and mustard sandwich.   Delicious.

No soon is Gertrude disappearing off the horizon, accompanied by flurries of snow over high ground (us?) than Henry puts in an appearance on Monday/Tuesday, accompanied by even stronger winds 'which may cause structural damage'.   

The one advantage of naming storms that I can see is that it does make it easier to recall how many storms we have had this Winter.
Henry will be the eighth and the farmer cannot ever remember so many storms in one Winter before. 

We are set to meet four people in Hawes tomorrow for lunch (a change of venue as the restaurant we were to meet in was flooded out and rang on Friday to say that their renovations were not finished).   We are keeping our fingers crossed that snow doesn't prevent us all meeting as this is the third time we have arranged to meet and the other two have gone wrong.

So everyone will wrap up well.  But after all, it is Winter isn't it?

Friday 29 January 2016


Women are supposed to be good at multi-tasking (think looking after babies, preparing a meal, looking after a house) and I used to pride myself at one time that I could hold down an important job, run a household, have hobbies and the like.

Now is a very different story.   I do not like to be under pressure and when there are jobs to be done I like to do them one at a time and then tick them off on my mental list of 'Jobs to do today.'

Is this something to do with the ageing process do you think?   Or is it something to do with lack of practice?

Whatever it is, after a morning with the coffee girls (thin on the ground today because of the weather) when it was nigh on impossible to stand up in our Market Square because of the incredibly strong gales, my job to do this afternoon, along with the farmer, was to go to our Post Office in the little town of Bedale, about twelve miles away, to send off (after their checking) for passport renewal.

All done and dusted now, but why is it now so frustrating and stressful to have to fill in forms, get accompanying photographs, get said photographs verified and then have the lot checked.  And this is a week when I have already given up on forms from the Income Tax office and sent them off to my accountant to sort out.
Yes, if I am not careful I shall go into a decline believing I am getting old.

Thursday 28 January 2016

The end of the season.

This Saturday, January 30th, will be the last 'shoot' of the season, as the pheasant-shooting season ends on January 31st.   Around here most farms are privately owned, and those which are, like ours, mostly organise shooting syndicates with the farms roundabout.  In early Spring they buy in pheasant poults and rear them before letting them go.   By the time the season begins they are full size.

The farmer has never been a shooter but usually goes along to act as a beater, or just for the exercise and the company.   The shooters all know one another; they have their lunch in the big barn, sitting on bales of straw.   If it is a really cold, or wet, day somebody usually has a bottle of  something to pass round.   I usually put a tot of rum or whisky in the farmer's coffee flask - all helps to keep him warm.

Half a dozen fields away from our shoot is a large, corporate shoot -  belonging to one of the big landowners in the area.   That is a very different matter.   Here, large groups pay for the privilege of shooting on the land, and they are treated to a sumptuous lunch in some shooting hut somewhere, transported there by vehicles.  The whole thing is organised by a gamekeeper.

Of course, pheasants don't know who they 'belong' to - they are free spirits - and they can fly - so by the end of the season they have roamed far and wide and no doubt they will have some of 'our' birds and we will have some of 'theirs.'

The fact remains that they are not wild birds as such, they are partly tame, so they stay around.   We have a group that stay around our bird table for most of the day.   They have no reason to go further as there is plenty of food there for them.   I always hope they stay as that means they end the season unscathed.   This year, at present, we have one cock pheasant and four hens - the beginning of his harem I presume (I expect he can feel Spring in the air).

It goes without saying that no way will I eat pheasant.   They are beautiful birds and I don't approve of shooting them, particularly when they are introduced to the fields especially for that purpose.

On the subject of fields.   They are still far too wet to get on to, and it is getting quite serious for farmers as jobs usually done this time of year fall behind.  'Muck' still lies in a heap - it is far too wet to take the spreader up and down the fields.  And the hedges remain uncut as the hedge-cutter can't get on either.   This becomes serious in a month or so when the hedgerow birds begin to think about building their nests.   We always try to get this work done well before that time.   We have a lot of yellow hammers and they love the thick, short hedges for building their nests.

Wednesday 27 January 2016


India is one of the countries I have never visited and know that now I never will.   My first husband had lived there and had no desire to go back.   The farmer takes one look at the insanitary conditions and immediately says 'no way'.   So perhaps that is why is so enjoyed BBC1's 'The Real Marigold Hotel' last night.

For anyone who didn't see it, eight celebrities (4 men and 4 women), all over retirement age, have gone to India for three weeks to investigate what it would really be like to retire there, into an environment where everything is so much cheaper than here.

This programme really follows the two films made about retiring to India - films which I also enjoyed, but which were pure fiction of course.

What I enjoyed most (apart from the absolute total irreverence of Miriam Margoyles) was the amount of India we actually saw.   It is taking place in Jaipur.

I can't wait for next week's episode.   If you didn't watch it I do urge you to catch up on IPlayer before next week.

##On a completely different subject.   I have just watched our local six-o'clock news and there was an item I wanted to share with you to see what you all think.

A Head Teacher in the North of England somewhere has written to parents and asked them not to drop off - or collect- their children to and from school still wearing pyjamas and slippers.   I find this absolutely incredible.   I don't find it acceptable and think that parents could easily get up a quarter of an hour earlier in order to be reasonably dressed for the school run.   I know many parents these days work from home and I also know that there is a tendency for folk who work from home to work in their pyjamas all day.   But to me it is sloppy behaviour and is not setting a good, efficient example to the children on the way they should see school.   I would be really interested in your opinions.  Am I old-fashioned?   I taught in school for many years and I just think it promotes the wrong attitude.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Fickle January.

Just about every kind of weather has been thrown at us during January this year.   Floods, mild spells, snow, high winds - and now the fall out from storm Jonas in the US.

It's funny how our hopes are raised, only to be dashed.   I suspect it has always been thus in January.   We come out of the Christmas period thinking that there are still a good two months of Winter left.  Then, suddenly, the sun is out and the temperature rises; the aconites pop through the ground.   They are subtle - they have their yellow heads out of the ground, but they don't open their faces to the sun.   

Then we get huge downpours, the fields flood, roads are closed, folk are washed out of their homes, and we go around saying that Winter is back in a big way.   Then last week-end it is very mild.   The aconites open their little golden faces to the sun and the snowdrops peep through their leaves.   Yesterday they made the decision to come fully out and under the Scot's pines there is a white carpet.

And now today there has been heavy rainfall higher up the Dale - two inches in some places on higher ground than here - and even worse in the West of the country where the fall out from Jonas really hits home.

But our Spring flowers are a hardy lot.   They have seen it all before.   They will continue to cheer us up, whatever the weather.
This morning friends W and C and I went into our favourite cafe for coffee and scones, as usual on a Tuesday.   During our coffee the rain began to come through the top of the window and quickly fill the row of cake plates decorating the window cill.   And when we came out of the cafe, the wind caught W and I and blew us down the footpath clinging on to one another.   We just managed to stay upright.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Monday 25 January 2016

"I too have shot my bolt."

I feel sad that Henry Worsley at the age of only 55, has died today while attempting to cross Antarctica alone.   Only thirty miles from the end of his expedition his weak voice came over the radio and although he was rescued and flown to hospital in Chile, he has died.

Shackleton has always been one of my heroes - and I understand that he was one of Worsley's too.   There are some people who feel so strongly that it is worth risking one's life to fulfil a dream - and he was one of them.

It would be good if he was given some kind of award posthumously don't you think?   We need men (and women) like him to make us realise that there are things worth striving for.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Time flies.

Two totally different memories today, one of which I intended to put with a photograph, but - sorry - windows 10 is still only new to me and I just can't find it now that I have scanned it into my computer.  Managed to do it four hours later.  I'm learning!

So memories without a photograph.    It is seventy five years today since I was bridesmaid for my brother on his wedding day - January 24th 1941.   He was, of course, just about to go off to fight - in fact he was married in his uniform.   But I don't remember any poignancy to the occasion - it was just one jolly, happy day as far as I was concerned.   Weren't parents good at keeping the trauma and terrible worry of war away from us children?  My brother survived Dunkirk and the war and he and my sister- in- law lived happily together until he died in 1985.   My sister-in-law is still alive and, at the age of 95, lives in a Nursing Home.   Sadly, I suppose, she will not remember what day it is today - but she is happy and contented in her own way and that is all that matters.  So sorry John (Going Gently) but can't post that childhood photo you requested.

My other memory was triggered by reading that a new biopic by the BBC entitled 'Stan and Ollie' is to be made.   As kids we used to think Laurel and Hardy Films were the last word and we absolutely adored them.   Then in 1953 I went to see them on stage in Nottingham as they toured the Musical Halls, trying to revive their image.  As Kevin Maher says in yesterday's Times - Hardy was already ill, they kept falling in and out, and they toured, trying to recapture some of their earlier 'hysterical, heyday magic',   But it was too late - times, and the sort of comedy that attracted the masses - had moved on.   I remember the evening as one with a half-filled theatre and a very poor, lack-lustre performance.   I shalln't go and see the film.   That era has long passed and can't be revived in my opinion.

Saturday 23 January 2016

If Winter comes.....

.....can Spring be far behind?
Well all the prophets of doom up here in the Yorkshire Dales will take delight in reminding you that one of the worst winters and falls of snow they ever had began on February 2nd.   But, without tempting fate, I prefer to think this show of aconites in my front garden, and the sudden rise in temperature over the last twenty four hours, at least heralds a warm spell, even if it doesn't last.

I am hoping it lasts until next week-end when the farmer and I are looking forward to meeting friends for lunch over the tops and down the other side in Ravenstonedale.   This involves going over the high part of the Pennines and, of course, it can be pleasant down here at 600feet asl, but up there it can be a very different story.

A friend and I were talking the other day about how awful it must be to live above the Arctic Circle, where it barely gets light at all between November and February.  I have only been up there at the other extreme - Midsummer Day - when it barely gets dark, and I wasn't sure I would like that.   I suppose it is what we are born to, or at least get used to.

In the meantime, I shall continue to enjoy this warmer week-end and the joy of seeing these aconites out of my sitting room window, particularly if I can, at the same time, sit with a cup of tea and a look at The Times Crossword.

Friday 22 January 2016

Follow that!

It is difficult to think of a blog to put on today after the successful one yesterday (in terms of the comments I received and the 'conversation' it generated.)   It is good to come up with an idea which gets everyone joining in, isn't it?

Our local paper comes out on a Friday morning and the farmer (who is of course a real local having been born in the very house he lives in now) reads it from cover to cover.   I, on the other hand, tend to rather skim through it just choosing which bits I read.

But a couple of weeks ago a retired local wrote complaining about the minuses of our little market town.   He complained that there wasn't enough parking, that the housing was all taken by incomers who had therefore pushed the prices up and how young people could no longer afford to live here, even if they had been born here.
And how the local traders did well from the incomers while the young couples had to go to the supermarket ( four miles away) to shop.

Today one of the journalists on the paper has answered the complaints in a lightly veiled way - saying that a new estate does seem to have an awful lot of young folk with babies on it, and what a shame it is that the car park is always empty - what a waste of space (you have to pay to park there of course) and that it is awful that you can only buy eleven different kinds of olives in our local deli - and so on.

I suppose there is truth in both sides of the argument, depending on one's age, money, and various other factors.   But it is interesting to see that four semi detached houses were built in our little town a year ago - each put up for sale at £140,000, which by today's standards is probably not all that high a price - and two of them still remain unsold.   I presume that this is because it is difficult for young people to get a mortgage.

As an incomer myself, only moving here upon retirement from teaching in 1987, (early retirement I hasten to add!  I am not quite as old as Methuselah), I can see both sides.   The farmer is quite philosophical about the whole thing and says that everyone has to find their own level.   But I must say there are always plenty of young people, and lots of lovely babies, about.   I think we are still a fairly mixed community.

But I do just wonder, with a two bedroomed bungalow to rent costing over £500 a month - how does any young couple find enough money to put down a deposit on a new house, however 'cheap' it is?   Do you live in a similar place?   I suspect most small towns are the same.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Does this matter?

I just read on Linda's blog how her friend in Duluth (US) has sent her a lovely sunset photograph - in fact she has put it on to her blog for us to enjoy. (Life on a Colorado Farm on my side bar.)   I went immediately to my Atlas to look up exactly where Duluth is, as I always do if somewhere is mentioned that I haven't heard of.  My father always did it and I have grown up with the habit.

Now I am not saying that I am right to do this - each to his own.   But today I met two ladies who shall be nameless, both under forty and both interesting, intelligent and well-informed people, who know so many things I don't know (particularly things about working their computers for example).   But we got talking about the flooding and about our local rivers.

'Our' river, which floods very easily and then eventually, after a few days, contributes to the flooding of York, is called the River Ure.   They knew that, but beyond that they knew none.  (Oh yes one said, I do know the Thames and the Nile - but not entirely sure where the Nile is).   They had no idea that the Ure flowed into the River Ouse, which is the river which flows through York.   And when I asked where it flowed into the sea they had no idea that it flowed into the Humber Estuary - and that this was on the East Coast.

In other words, their knowledge of Geography was pretty poor.   It transpired that they both 'dropped' Geography at the age of thirteen or so.

Should there be a core curriculum which includes English, Maths (or at least Arithmetic), History, Geography and perhaps French, as there was in my days (pre GCSE) so that everyone grows up with at least some grounding in these things?   Or am I a daft old bat who doesn't know what she is talking about?   If so, please tell me so - my back is broad and I can take it!

Wednesday 20 January 2016


It is our Poetry afternoon today.   It is 9.40 and I am still in my pyjamas.   I am now going to make myself a coffee and read through a few poetry books, looking for my contributions.   I just hope nobody calls in (including the farmer, as he would see jim-jams at ten in the morning as the very height of decadence).

Tuesday 19 January 2016


I have had a lovely day today, visiting an old friend M and having a nice afternoon's chat.   Tess came with me and we sat in a warm sitting room talking about this and that - and so the afternoon passed.

Then I came home.   The farmer took Tess for her afternoon walk, taking with him some fencing slats because - again - the sheep have managed to find a way out on to the back lane. (this lane is not a road; it is at the opposite end of the farm and is just a muddy track.
Job done he came home and we had our tea.

So far so good.  Then my frustration began.   Why is nothing simple these days - or is it just my lack of computer skills?   Our European health cards needed renewing and I renewed mine about a week ago, but we couldn't find the farmer's NHS number.   This morning I went into the medical practice and the very nice receptionist gave me it from her computer in two minutes flat.
But when I tried to apply for the farmer's card the site kept refusing, saying that the e mail address (mine) was already used.
After many frustrating attempts I finally realised that I had to reset my password, start again and add him to my application.  

I will now be perfectly honest and say that I have little patience as I get older and I really am not all that good at reading instructions thoroughly.   When I finally reset the password and started again it all went like clockwork (I hope), but I did spend a very frustrating half hour and I do now feel rather wrung out!

Just a word about my son and his eye.   He had to have the whole thing re-done yesterday - and also the expected cataract (a side effect of the operation) had already formed, so he had that removed at the same time.   He has to take a week off school and take it really quietly, which I hope he is doing.   And we are just hoping that it all works well this time.   He has great confidence in his surgeon, who he says is a wonderful man - so let's hope all goes well this time.

Monday 18 January 2016

In for the afternoon.

The farmer has at last learned a bit of sense now that he is retired.   He has just taken Tess for her after-lunch walk and on coming back in he has taken off his outdoor togs and come into the house to sit by the wood burner and do the latest jigsaw.

There was a time, until fairly recently, when he almost thought it a crime to be indoors during the day.  (old habits die hard)   But he has learned his lesson.   This morning he gave the hens a thorough clean out while they were out in the paddock.   All the old straw went on to the compost heap and fresh straw was scattered and some corn thrown into it so that when they come in tonight the hens will have the lovely surprise of being able to scratch in new, clean straw in order to find bits of corn here and there. Whatever the weather the hens rush out in the mornings and dash into the fields looking for grubs - and pecking at the grass.

Our snow has almost gone but it is misty and grey and cold - worse in a lot of ways than sunny, frosty weather.   But it is set to get warmer towards the middle of the week.  Can't be soon enough for me - I think I have got soft in my old age.  I even made a blackberry and apple crumble for lunch - we rarely have a pudding but I thought the miserable view out of the window meant we needed a bit of cheering up.

My son has returned to the hospital today.   You may remember that just before Christmas he had a detached retina - well he felt something was just not right so he went back to the Specialist this morning and his wife just rang to say he is having more treatment while she waits for him.   Eyes are so important - so it is quite a worry.


Sunday 17 January 2016


Today is a thoroughly miserable day.   We have a thin covering of snow and we awoke to thick fog.   The fog has cleared and at present it is not freezing, but the snow is still lying, it is cloudy and it is cold.   A proper January day I would say.

Everything (including humans!) needs to eat more to keep warm on days like this.   Our bird table has been replenished twice and the blackbirds have come in with a vengeance.   The robin guards his mealworms

with his life - until the blackbird appears - and, as usual, the larger the bird the better as far as food is concerned - and the blackbird gave the robin very short shrift and finished the meal worms off in no time at all, just shovelling them down.

Horsey people are on the look out for hay and friends with horses have been round this morning for twenty bales and will be back tomorrow for another twenty.   I took a photograph of them backing the trailer into the hay shed.   No way was I going out in the cold to take a better shot.

Friday 15 January 2016


The cold has arrived here - and everywhere else it seems - today with a vengeance.   All the snow has gone and all day the sky has been a clear blue and the sun has been shining, so it has really been a glorious day providing one had plenty of layers of warm clothing on.

Coffee this morning with friends as usual - then after lunch a drive to our feed merchants through winter landscape of bare trees.   There is still plenty of flooding in the fields and in one or two places it is across the road, but the water is only shallow.   In the warm car it was a lovely journey.

The farmer has just passed me on his way upstairs for his shower and has informed me that minus seven is forecast for tonight.   When I stand at our front gate I can see the snow lying on the top of the Cleveland Hills - so I expect that Thelma (North Stoke on my side bar) may well have snow where she lives.   Keep warm Thelma.

Thursday 14 January 2016


After weeks of wet, mild and muddy weather, the present weather seems to be coming straight over from Siberia according to the weather map.   And outside seems to bear this out.

This morning it was blowing a gale and there was a blizzard of wet snow.   But by afternoon the sun came out and the snow melted.   But it is bitterly cold and there is no comfortable place to be other than by the stove with its red glow.   Better get my winter coat out of the wardrobe before going into town in the morning.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Finishing the jigsaw.

Well, the jig saw is finished as you can see above.   I think it is the most difficult one we have ever done, although the farmer disputes this, remembering one of a stained glass window, which he thinks was harder.

Anyway, it has been a pleasure to do and has really taxed us both.   Now that it is finished I doubt we shall ever do it again.   I have found a keen puzzler who would like to try it and when I saw her today I promised I would keep the outside separate to save her the bother of sorting through it again.   When I got home and told the farmer he told me he had taken it all to pieces this afternoon - so I shall now have to tell her the bad news.

Our 'Exercise for the over sixties' class started again today.   Golly, how I have missed it -  it is hard work but it is so necessary to keep in good health.   I shall no doubt be stiff tomorrow but an hour's work out to music is so important.   I have come home full of energy but very hungry and although I usually have very little tea (our main meal is at lunch time) I managed four tuna,sweet corn and coleslaw sandwiches and were they good!

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Drama in the field.

I returned from my coffee with friends (and a pastry too because they looked so good) this morning, to find the farmer in, sitting by the Aga, both nostrils blocked with cotton wool.   He was reading the paper, so not too bad I thought.

What happened, he found a sheep that had got out (nothing new there - they are past masters at the art) and had then got itself fast in the hedge.   He had to yank hard to extract it, at which point it reared up in the air and hit him clean between the eyes with its very hard head.

Blood pouring from his nostrils he was determined not to let go of its horns until it was returned to the proper field, so blood streaming down he managed to get it back to the flock and then came home, washed himself down and with what was by this time a
very swollen nose, he sat down to recover.  Now we are waiting to see if he gets two black eyes as well.

He seems to be recovered and is doing the jig saw, but as it is a cold day he is staying indoors until feed-up time.    

One of the perils of farming I am afraid.   He has never really liked sheep; he likes them even less now!

Monday 11 January 2016

A thick haze.

A short post today and an 'e and oe' one at that, because I have just come back from a visit to the optician in our town.   It was, I thought, only my yearly 'free' check up and eye test.   But I have come away £420 poorer as I am in urgent need of new specs after only a year.   My eye sight has deteriorated a lot.

I can hardly feel that it is money well-spent but on the other hand we must never neglect our eyes must we?   At present I have drops in which have dilated the pupils and made everything quite difficult to see.   Hopefully this will have gone off by jigsaw time!

So until tomorrow.....

Sunday 10 January 2016


One of our favourite Christmas presents  is a jigsaw.   Preferably one or two to help us through the dark winter nights of January.
This year we got three beauties - one of Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles - which we have done and you see above.

The next one was breeds of Chicken, Ducks and Geese, which looked really exciting to do.   We are on with it at the moment .  It is, without a doubt, the hardest puzzle we have ever done; in fact several times we have been tempted to abandon it.   But no, we have persevered - and at last we begin to see some semblance of the finished puzzle.   What's more, it doesn't get any easier as the pieces get less.  I really think that it will be hard to the very last half dozen pieces.   Rachel - if you fancy having a go at it then I will willingly send it to you if you let me have your address, because one thing is for certain - we will not attempt it for a second time.

When this one is finally finished some time later this week then we have one more to go - and it looks to be equally difficult because it is rows of books on library shelves.   But, nothing ventured....... 

Saturday 9 January 2016

Third attempt.

Twice, half way through my post it has disappeared into thin air.   I expect I have suddenly hit the wrong key, but it is irritating and I really didn't have time to start again before tea.   So here goes - and this time I will go a bit more slowly and watch what I am doing.

Today the farmer (and nineteen other eager walkers) has walked with his walking group.   The weather was abysmal - foggy, damp, cold and muddy - mostly walking along the banks of the River Ure.
He seems to have enjoyed it though.

Meawhile, friend W and I took the opportunity to go out for a pub lunch (lovely veggie soup for both, then sea bass (W) and leek, cheese and potato pie (me) - and finally coffee.   And all sitting by the fire in a nice warm pub.   I know which I prefer.

En route for the pub we met a cyclist struggling up the slope and W stopped to let him pass us, wound down the window and told him to take his time as we were in no hurry.   Just a kind word - he smiled and carried on.   And we got talking about speaking to folk we meet in the street.

As I get older I am afraid I do it more and more.   Never yet have I met with animosity.   There is something nice about exchanging a few words with strangers and perhaps making them smile.   I am a sucker for babies and always speak to new mums, asking to peep at the baby, asking the baby's name.   Mums are always eager to pass on this information and it makes us both smile - and surely that is a good thing.

But thinking about it afterwards I do wonder whether that is because of my sex.   W told me of a gentleman friend who saw a young lady approaching.   She had the most beautiful hair and he remarked on this as she got up to him.   Nothing wrong with that - I think I would be flattered.   She however answered, "Do I know You?"   He actually replied, "No but you will do next time!" 

Thinking about it since - maybe it is different for a man.   I often tell ladies I admire their dress, or their hair - or their perfume.   I have never met with anyone being cross about it  - they always seem to be flattered that someone has noticed (or perhaps they are humouring me and really thinking 'poor old dear'!)

Shall I think twice next time?   I doubt it.   Until the day when I really put my foot in it, I shall continue as I am doing.

Friday 8 January 2016

An Aberration.

 An aberration has appeared in the sky today.   After a very wet start this morning, the sun has appeared and the sky has cleared.   It has turned quite a bit colder, but who cares about that when the sun is out.   Let's hope that by next week it is more than an aberration and
has become almost a permanent presence.

Because our usual cafe has closed for a fortnight we all went to our local auction house's cafe for coffee this morning.   It really is a huge asset to our town; you can view the details at
Tomorrow there is a fine furniture and taxidermy sale and after our coffee friend W and I looked round the stuff for sale.   What beautiful furniture - and most of it so superior to the modern stuff.
There were a lot of dealers with catalogues, making notes and peering through eyeglasses at silver items, so I don't think there will be any bargains to be had.  

On the taxidermy side there was a stuffed alligator.   I stroked its nose, remarking that I had always wanted to stroke an alligator's nose.   W poked me in the back and made a grunting sound!   Didn't half make me jump.  Or you could have had a stuffed ostrich (where would you put it?) or two stuffed matching (mr and mrs) wild boar, or a mountain goat.   The list is endless.

Returning home to get lunch for the farmer who had been at the Auction Mart ,it was unusual for him to be late.   There had been a bad accident at the mart.   The farmers always go into the sale ring with their animals and a farmer had gone in with some bullocks and one had knocked him down.   As he lay on the floor the bullock had gone for him again and only the quick thinking of someone by the ring had saved him as the bullock was driven off.   The ambulance and paramedic were called and this resulted in the arrival of the air ambulance as the man was airlifted to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.   Long lines of land rovers and cattle trailers built up on the sides of the road all through the town as everyone had to move off site to make way for the emergency services.

We tend to forget that cattle are only one step removed from being wild animals and they still have wild instincts which can come to the fore, especially under unusual and perhaps scary, circumstances.   Hopefully the farmer involved is not too badly hurt.

It is now 3.15pm and the sun is still shining. I can't begin to tell you how welcome it is.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Please take the time.

A bit of a macabre post today.   Sorry but maybe it will prompt somebody out there, so worth saying.   I never gave this a thought until a reached a fairly ripe age (I sound like a well-matured Stilton cheese) but Christmas, and sitting all afternoon with friend M chatting about this very thing made me think it might be a good idea to write about it.

Over the years both M and I have moved around a bit.   M is a Londoner moved North on retirement.   I am a Lincolnshire lass moved around in Lincolnshire, then to Lichfield in Staffordshire for a few years, then to Wolverhampton in the West Midlands for seventeen years and finally to the Dales in North Yorkshire for almost the last thirty years (the longest I have lived anywhere by a long way).   Along the way I have made many friends.   My first husband and I played early musical instruments and performed in various early music groups - lots of friends there; we both taught - lots of friends there; lots of neighbours too.

How do we keep in touch?   Well, mainly through Christmas and Birthday cards - often with a letter inside.   And how I enjoy receiving them all and sitting after Christmas and reading through
them all again.   And how they bring back lovely memories.

But, as M and I were saying this afternoon, each year several cards no long appear.  You send a card but you don't receive one back. That is when the speculation begins.    Has the friend become ill, or moved away, or gone into care (remember we are all getting on a bit) - or perish the thought - have they died?   We shall never know.

I have about a dozen people I have lost contact with over the last couple of years or so.   We have been exchanging cards and letters at Christmas for years and suddenly - no more.   

So here is a suggestion.  All of these people will have left some kind of address book and my name (amongst many others probably) will be in it.   Is it too much to ask that whoever is clearing up their affairs could just send a card explaining why communication has stopped?   It would make such a different to many happy memories to have an ending rather than a sudden cut-off.     

Am I being unreasonable to ask such a thing?

Wednesday 6 January 2016


The car has gone in for a service this morning - its first since we only bought it a year ago this week.   It has gone in to the garage where we bought it in Northallerton, which is twenty five miles away, so quite a chore taking it in.   The farmer has returned home in a Corsa courtesy car; no mistaking that as it is writ large in white letters along the side.  An hour and a half's journey there and back, but that's the price you pay for living way out in the country.   And a price well worth paying in my opinion.

I suppose you can say that it has just about got light this morning, although that is arguable, and the rain is coming down as it has done almost constantly for the past few days. With our first Christmas jig-saw (Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles) finished I think this afternoon while waiting for the call from the garage to say the car is ready for collection, might be spent on the second one.  This is a beauty with a selection of chickens, ducks and geese all over it. But the border, where every piece is more or less identical (a strip of blue round the edge), is proving difficult.   Now that the base outside line is finished I have suggested that we work up from that and leave the outside to take care of itself as and when we get to each line of pieces - surely it will be easier that way.

Typing that last line reminded me of my Aunt Jessie's favourite remark on hand-washing ' you need only wash the back's of your hands, the fronts will take care of themselves.'

Tuesday 5 January 2016


Following on from my blog about things we remember from the past which are no longer with us, this morning in the cafe three of us driking our hot chocolate, were talking about remedies from the past.

Of course before the NHS, unless one had medical insurance, all visits to the doctor had to be paid for.   But village doctors were rather like friends of the family.   If the farmer's mother sent for the doctor because any of her six were ill, they all used to do a bunk out into the field to escape from his ministrations.   He got wise to this and would always visit at bedtime to catch them.

Sitting in the cafe the three of us, W,C and I, talked about what we had to avoid a visit to the doctor.   My mother thought Friar's Balsam (don't ask me what it was) was the answer to everything - constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pains, sore throat, runny nose - the answer was a teaspoon of sugar with five drops of friar's balsam on it.   Tasted horrible but by golly you said you felt better in the morning otherwise you might get another spoonful.   And I am still here so it can't have been that bad.

C's mum used to dish out Indian Brandy (don't think it contained brandy and pretty sure it had never seen India either) as a cure-all and W's mum was a hot toddy mum (whisky, lemon juice, honey and hot water) - this is the farmer's cure all today.

My father always had Glauber's salts in hot water on Friday mornings before breakfast come what may, and the farmer's mum always had Fynnon salts.

In other words, we were all pretty good at treating ourselves for minor ailments.   Perhaps we should all do this again now.  It would certainly lessen the pressure on an overworked and under staffed National Health Service.

C suggested we all try hot lemonade and two paracetamol - I intend to try it next time I feel 'off colour'.

Monday 4 January 2016


Travelling through a wet, bleak and cold Wensleydale yesterday on our way to Hawes for lunch, we passed Addlebrough -a flat- topped hill which was once home to an Iceni tribe.
The top of the hill was obscured by mist and it really did look the last place on earth anyone would choose to set up home.   But, of course, it did give the tribe a good view of any possible trouble approaching from any direction.   (although in those days much of the dale would have been covered in forest too).
I remarked to the farmer what an awful day it was and suggested that the tribe would have been wet and cold in such awful conditions.   
But of course it doesn't work like that does it?   They would no doubt be clad in warm clothing made from skins or something and they would have had great, warming fires and presumably plenty of meat to eat from game they had caught in the surrounding area.
We can speculate on what previous generations have done to keep warm, happy and well-fed, but really each age has its own problems and deals with them.   There would always be poor and needy who would battle hard with the elements, just as there are now.
We then began to chat about our own lives and what has changed.   Of course there are the major things like health care and medical discoveries.   There is the access to foreign holidays whereas in our day a week's trip from Lincoln to Skeggie (Skegness) on the train was a treat to be looked forward to and enjoyed.   There is the availability of vehicles - and the fact that today few even run an old car.   When I was a child only the vicar, the doctor and our neighbour had cars and our neighbour drove so slowly that my brother once passed him on his bike!
Then there are the things that we eat and drink.   I never remember drinking 'proper' coffee - all we drank was Camp coffee (a mixture of coffee and chicory) and as for Olive Oil, which I now buy in large bottles of extra virgin - if you wanted olive oil you went and bought a little bottle from the chemist and usually put it in your ears!
So called 'foreign' foods were almost unheard of.   I remember my mother and father being rather suspicious of my cooking when we were first married because I used things they had never heard of.   Pasta?   Well if you were really adventurous you might make macaroni cheese, or macaroni pudding - but my father preferred rice pudding cooked long and slow in the fire oven so that it came out rich and creamy.   And semi-skimmed milk?   No thank-you.
What changes can you think of to add to this list?   There are no doubt hundreds - some for the better and some not.
One change I have thought about as I typed that last sentence is the way our own native eating apples gradually dwindled in the greengrocers until they were overtaken by foreign imports - all the delicious native varieties seemed to disappear - they are beginning to make a comeback at long last. 
And without all aspects of social media I wouldn't even be asking the question would I?

Sunday 3 January 2016


After a couple of weeks of providing festive meals for all and sundry and now also suffering from cabin fever in a big way, I suggested that we go out for lunch today.   It is a cold, wet and dismal day but everywhere was busy.   Our little market town was bustling and Hawes, where we were heading (the home of Wensleydale cheese and the main town in Wensleydale) was heaving with visitors as it always is every day of the year apart from Christmas Day.

To The Pantry, kept by friends of ours, where the farmer had roast beef with all the trimmings and I had a similar (though smaller) portion of roast lamb and mint sauce.   We were home again by half past one, just in time to greet my son and his wife who called because they too had cabin fever!   So we have had a nice, quiet afternoon by the woodburner and it is now time to get a cup of tea and a piece of Christmas cake to finish off the day nicely.

This wet weather will probably bring the river up and over again.  Although it was quite low, all the surrounding fields were heavily under water - so things are a long way from drying out.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Good day for the pheasants.

There is quite thick fog here and it is a shooting day, so I would say that the pheasants are in luck.   I really do think also that they learn a bit of common sense over the shooting season; there are four cock pheasants in our front walled garden this morning and they look to me as though they have absolutely no intention of moving anywhere in the firing line.

Our neighbours with their two small children have returned from a fortnight in Tenerife - they go every Christmas to friends there - and G has just been round to say that there is only a trickle of water coming out of their cold water tap so what is our water pressure like?   I had to ring the farmer to see what he said as our pressure seemed fine and he reminded me that when the indoor cows are all drinking from the trough the water pressure lowers considerably.

G has gone off home with a dozen fresh eggs so I hope by the time he got round home again the pressure was back to normal.   The farmer meanwhile (when I rang him) is sitting in the barn half way round the shoot, comfortable on straw bales, all eating sandwiches and passing round a bottle of some sort!   That's life for a Yorkshire farmer in case you were thinking he was out working on a cold, foggy morning!

Friday 1 January 2016

It has begun.

As another old year bites the dust a new one begins.   Let's all hope that it is better in world terms than the last one was.

Here the damp. sunny weather has given way this morning to a frost (minus two so nothing to brag about) and a dull, dismal sky with no sign of the sun.   The kind of day to sit by the wood burner.

One of the good things about New Year's Eve get-togethers (we always host a small dinner party) is that there is always plenty left to eat for lunch on New Year's Day.

Last night I did a vegetarian casoulet for my son, a fish pie for friend W and me (I do this every year, it has become a tradition now) and beef in beef for the farmer and for K.   This lunch time I had more fish pie with left-over veggies and the farmer had beef in beer with veggies.   There was then plenty of blackberry, raspberry and apple crumble and ice cream left for pud (diet starts tomorrow).

Now (after spending a while unblocking the sink for me!!) the farmer is doing the jig saw of Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles (I enjoyed the 'busy' bit but am useless at wood-block tiled floors where every piece looks the same.   The trouble is for me that the farmer goes entirely on shape and doesn't need to look at the picture on the cover of the box, whereas I need the lid in my hand for every piece.   We love doing jigsaws in the Winter and had three for Christmas, so plenty to keep us going.

Do you make resolutions?   If so I would love to hear what they are.   I no longer do make them, although I seem to remember that last year I did resolve to have eyes and ears tested - and I did carry this out.

Tess disgraced herself by doing a wee on the sitting room carpet while we were waiting for our guests to arrive last evening.    She seems to get stressed when she senses people are coming and that is when she does it.    She has had several such incidents lately - maybe she is getting old and can't stand upset.  (She is eight).   Has anyone found any way of stopping it - she does know she has done wrong and looks terribly shame-faced when I find it.   But wee is almost impossible to remove from carpets even if treated straight away.

My next job is to transfer all birthdays to the calendar for 2016 - this year our calendar (which the farmer had for Christmas) is a calendar of cattle breeds - a nice change.   Must go and do it right now.   Enjoy a relaxing day.